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28 September 1997

Welcome to this week's Mersey Shipping News.



SEACAT SCOTLAND remains in Canada Number 3 Branch Dock. During the week she was joined by naval patrol vessel HMS ANGLESEY [P277] and on Friday by MERSEY VIKING which was unable to use its usual berth at the Norse Irish Terminal in Brocklebank Dock due to maintenance work.

After completion of the 21.30 sailing ex-Douglas on Monday 22 September, SEACAT ISLE OF MAN proceeded to Langton Dock to destore. She was still there on Friday afternoon.

New Liverpool IoMSPCo Terminal ?

A very, confused report in Friday's Liverpool Daily Post Newspaper [26 September, 1997] outlined plans for a new IoMSPCo terminal at the Pier Head.

The headline read "Isle of Man Ferry May Return to Pier Head" the sub headline read "Ship's move to old home would turn back the clock". A large picture showed the TSS BEN-MY-CHREE at the old wooden landing stage with the hideous, and now thankfully demolished, Pier Head Bus Station in the foreground.

The Isle of Man ships have never left the Pier Head apart from a brief period in the dark days following the Manx Line / IoMSPCo merger in the mid 1980s. Any one from outside of Liverpool reading the article would have thought they had been missing from the waterfront for years! The second paragraph of the article fails to make sense at all "The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company wants to expand the famous terminal by switching its sailings to Dublin and Douglas from the Landing Stage." Now it sounds as though rather than coming back they are leaving!

Anyway reading through this very confused news report it becomes apparent that they are talking about the future of the terminal building, the present building being constructed on a temporary basis in 1995. IoMSPCo have been offered the soon to be vacated HMS EAGLET buildings at the far and of Prince's Parade. Not much use as that would have put the terminal building several hundred yards further away from the city centre as well as the passenger access bridge to the Landing Stage!

However, it looks as though the new terminal building could be located on the newly landscaped Pier Head esplanade. Apparently the plan has been welcomed by the Merseyside Development Corporation who have suspended plans for a public arts project on the site. The report goes on to state that the terminal would be capable of handling 400000 passengers and 3000 sailings to Dublin and Douglas each year. The latter figure appears rather optimistic and works out at over 8 sailings per day, every day!

It will be interesting to see what happens, but one can't help but comment on the quality of the original news report which is nothing short of appalling. I have written a letter to the editor and it will be interesting to see if it published or replied to!


DEEP SEA WORKER/PEREGRENE VII is in dry dock where she is being lengthened. James Fisher's new China built GALWAY FISHER arrived in Cammell Laird's wet basin on Sunday afternoon, 21st September, presumably for final completion works before entering service. She was originally ordered by P&O sometime before the James Fisher take over of the P&O Tankships Fleet. She was to have been named in the "man" series but has since been given a Fisher name. Fishers have themselves been ordering their new buildings from VSEL at Barrow.


The Friday [26th September] departure of the MERSEY VIKING was diverted to CANADA 3 BRANCH DOCK as maintenance work was underway at the company's terminal


Patrol vessel HMS ANGLESEY [P277] was berthed at Canada 3 Branch Dock on Thursday and Friday this week.


The Mersey Dock's dispute has now been going on for two years. On Saturday 27th September dismissed dock employees held a protest rally in Liverpool city centre.


In a few weeks EasyJet is due to commence its first services from Liverpool [Speke] Airport to Amsterdam and Nice. Fares will be 39.00UKL and 49.00UKL single respectively.

EasyJet whose original base is Luton Airport has been a phenomenal success, operating scheduled flights at fares more akin to those offered by coach companies. It is a basic, no-frills service which relies on direct bookings so as to cut out travel agents.

Now the company is establishing a Liverpool base. Within its expansion plans published in the local press is a Liverpool to Belfast route. There is no mention of fares but it is quite probable to guess at something around the 30.00UKL mark. After Belfast is established Dublin and perhaps even Ronaldsway must surely come next providing landing slots can be obtained.

All this appears to me to pose a threat to passenger and vehicle ferry services. Very cheap air-fares could undermine ferry vehicle traffic as air travel and car hire would become an increasingly attractive option. Perhaps there could be a more serious effect where foot passengers are concerned?

At the moment we will just have to wait and see what develops.




21 September 1997

As promised last week there are two new photo galleries featuring Manx Coasters and the KONINGIN Beatrix's brief visit to Merseyside in August following her collision with her berth at Rosslare. Maritime Contacts has also been updated this week.




SEACAT SCOTLAND moved earlier in the week from Canada Dry Dock to Canada Number 3 Branch Dock where Wright and Beyer are continuing work to prepare the craft for her winter operation in Argentina. No attempt has been made to repaint her and on close inspection she, like SEACAT ISLE OF MAN does not appear in pristine condition - the blue paint applied to the SeaCats hulls does not appear to wear well and is certainly not as serviceable as the original predominantly white livery.

Sea Containers Ltd. said on 16th September it has taken two options for SuperSeaCat ferries to be built by Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA for delivery in 1999. Sea Containers already has taken delivery of two such vessels from the shipyard and the latest two will cost U.S.$60 million. The second two will differ from the first in modifications to loading capability, better bow thruster immersion and a larger and repositioned retail shop. One will operate between Liverpool, England, and Dublin, Ireland, while the other will sail between Stranraer, Scotland, and Belfast, Northern Ireland. The vessels are 100 meters/330 feet long and can carry 774 passengers on two decks and 175 vehicles. Each is capable of 38 knots. Extract from World Maritime News 19th September Edition..

Weather has upset SEACAT schedules again during the past week and one passenger even ended up in hospital!

On Monday the 07.30 SEACAT ISLE OF MAN sailing to Liverpool was cancelled with passengers routed via King Orry to Heysham. The KING ORRY sailed from Heysham 16.00 - probably more to do with late arrival due to gales rather than waiting for Liverpool passengers diverted from the 11.00.

The 14.30 SEACAT ISLE OF MAN departure from Douglas to Belfast was delayed and sailed at 17.30. Around 20 minutes into the voyage a woman passenger fell over. At first it was thought the casualty had suffered a spinal injury and the captain decided to return to Douglas where an ambulance took the casualty to Noble's Hospital. Fortunately the passenger's injuries were not serious. On Tuesday the 14.30 scheduled SEACAT ISLE OF MAN "Round the Island Cruise" was cancelled as was the SEACAT's 18.00 departure. The KING ORRY operated a replacement sailing which arrived in Liverpool at 00.45 and departed at 01.15 on Wednesday morning.

Since the Sea Container's take over there has been some delay and confusion over timetables. This year the main timetable was issued as a second edition before the main summer season began and only a few months after the first edition appeared near the end of January. Well I was amazed to find provisional timetable leaflets for both the TT and Manx Grand Prix periods 1998 available in the booking office at Douglas Sea Terminal on Saturday.

Perusing these timetables gives some indication of the service and perhaps ships to be used - though no indication is given of which vessels will operate particular sailings some reading between the lines is revealing. Interestingly no Fleetwood sailings are shown which appears to confirm rumours that Fleetwood has closed with the departure of the LADY OF MANN last week.


Autumn Specials:

Her is a round up of Autumn Specials available from 23rd September to 5th January between Douglas and Liverpool and Douglas and Heysham.


Adult singles 15.00UKL

Child singles 7.00UKL


Family Special single 39.00UKL

Return fares are double.


Shortbreak[up to 5 days]

Car & 2 Passengers return: 99.00UKL

Additional passengers 20.00 return

Motorcycle & 2 Passengers return 59.00UKL


Over 5 Days - Any Length of Stay:

Car & 2 Passengers return: 159.00UKL

Additional passengers 20.00 return

Motorcycle return 69.00UKL


On both car and 2 adult fares above up to 3 children travel free.

These fares must be booked in advance and are not available on day of travel.


On Wednesday 17th September the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company announced that they had bought out the interests of Forth Ports' development of an on river ro/ro terminal at Twelve Quays Birkenhead for an undisclosed sum. MD&HC announced that they would undertake to construct both terminals once permission was granted at the end of 1997. The terminals would be constructed during 1998 and be in operation by 1999. Each project is believed to be costing around 16.5 million pounds. Forth Ports had been seeking European funding for their terminal, however, MD&HC have pledged to fund the development from their own resources. P&O, Merchant Ferries and Norse Irish were mentioned as prospective users as well as "other Irish Sea operators" - [Sea Con/IoMSPCo ??]


The Royal Yacht BRITANNIA will visit Liverpool between the 27th and 30th October. This will be the vessel's last visit before withdrawal in December. The ship is also believed to be visiting Glasgow, Newcastle and London.


The Merseyside Royal Marines Association have announced plans to install a Memorial Stone in Victoria Place opposite the Seacombe Ferry Terminal to commemorate the actions of the 4th Battalion Royal Marines during the raid on the Zeebrugge Mole on St.George's Day 1918. The Marines were landed from the Mersey Ferries IRIS and DAFFODIL, who in recognition of their heroic exploits were allowed to carry the prefix ROYAL.


Vessels currently in Cammell Laird - Wet Basin - PEVERIL, L.M. BALDUR [floating crane]. DEEP SEA WORKER is in dry dock. When she leaves Cammell Laird she will carry the name PEREGRENE VII. P&O's EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR departed from the wet basin on the evening tide of Sunday 14 September.

STOP PRESS:STOP PRESS: James Fisher's new China built GALWAY FISHER is due to enter Cammell Laird's wet basin at 13.30 on Sunday 21st September, presumably for final completion works before entering service. STOP PRESS: James Fisher's new China built GALWAY FISHER is due to enter Cammell Laird's wet basin at 13.30 on Sunday 21st September, presumably for final completion works before entering service. STOP PRESS: James Fisher's new China built GALWAY FISHER is due to enter Cammell Laird's wet basin at 13.30 on Sunday 21st September, presumably for final completion works before entering service.



14 September 1997




SEACAT SCOTLAND remains in Canada Dry Dock being refitted prior to her winter vacation in Argentina.

The weather played havoc with SEACAT ISLE OF MAN sailings on Saturday 13th September. Whilst I noted her on time heading inbound from Douglas at around 09.35 at the Bar she was dipping very heavily into the swell. Her central bow section, which is normally well clear of the water was seen to dip almost below the water. [On the 29th August I had seen her running late along the Welsh coast obviously seeking shelter on the 07.30. However, yesterday she was on the usual direct route. I guess a very lively ride was being had by those on-board!

Consequently SeaCat sailings from Liverpool to Douglas were cancelled. The 21.30 departure from Douglas being operated by the KING ORRY and the 01.00 ex Liverpool retimed to 03.00 and operated by the KING.


As the IoMSPCo service appears to be doing quite well more adverts from the "big boys" have appeared in the Liverpool press this week. Stena are offering Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire day returns for 12.00UKL on the HSS with onward Dart train to Dublin. For an extra 11.00UKL you can get a day return from Liverpool including train fare to Holyhead. Somehow, given the HSS's in-ability to maintain schedules from time to time the prospect of missed connections and being stuck on a station in the middle of night must make this option not as attractive as it sounds. Whilst one only gets around 1.5 hours in Dublin Port - the IoMSPCo service still offers the best value for money at just 10.00UKL and must be the cheapest sea journey in terms of miles per pound anywhere in the world. One has to ask just how much 13 hours at sea on the Oriana or QEII would cost. From my own observations the day trips on the LADY OF MANN do appear quite popular and quite a few appear to make the trip. However, come the demise of the duty-free incentive in two years time thinks might change.!


Vessels currently in Cammell Laird - Wet Basin - PEVERIL, L.M. BALDUR [floating crane] and P&O's EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR. DEEP SEA WORKER is in dry dock. When she leaves Cammell Laird she will carry the name PEREGRENE VII.

STOP PRESS - EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR is due to depart Cammell Laird at 21.00 on Sunday 14th September.




07 September


Diana, Princess of Wales

Last Sunday saw the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Dodi Al-Fayed and their chauffeur. On Saturday 7th September it was noted that very few movements were reported for the afternoon tide. Liverpool in general was like a ghost town, driving through the city centre to the docks was almost unreal. A large number of flowers had been left around the Town Hall. The tugs at their berths in Canada Number 1 Branch Dock, and Huskisson Number 3 Branch Dock were flying both company pennants and red dusters at half halyard. Other ships around the docks were noted with dipped flags.

The eleven o'clock sailing of SEACAT ISLE OF MAN and the Mersey Ferry service were delayed for about 10 minutes. At the Steam Packet Terminal a solitary union flag few at half-mast on one of the poles which had been flying the Manx and Irish Flags during the summer. A large red ensign flew from the flagpole in the grounds of St.Nicholas' Church, known locally as "The Sailors' Church".



The last surviving classic turbine steamer MANXMAN has been badly damaged by fire at her Ruscador dry-dock berth at Hull. A fire, believed to be arson, destroyed the Directors' Bar and has followed a series vandalism incidents. The blaze began in the early hours of Sunday, August 17th and took over two hours to extinguish. The police have warned trespassers to stay away and have described the ship as being in an extremely dangerous condition. The future of the ship must now be in serious doubt.

It had been suggested last year by a Manx businessman that the ship could be restored and operated along the lines of the Waverley, failing that she could be given a decent burial, and scuttled somewhere off the island to provide a haven for marine life and for local divers.

It had been recently announced that the MANXMAN which has had a chequered career as a floating pub/disco/restaurant operation at Preston, Liverpool and Hull was reported to be going to a new home on the Isle of Wight.

SEACAT SCOTLAND arrived at Langton Lock at 19.00 on Sunday 31st August to make her way to Canada Graving Dock. She will be dry docked prior to her winter operation in Argentina.

SEACAT ISLE OF MAN sailings were seriously disrupted this week for the second Wednesday on the run. The SeaCat was stormbound in Douglas, Liverpool passengers were conveyed via Heysham on the KING ORRY. Meanwhile, the LADY OF MANN operated the Liverpool to Dublin sailings normally worked on Wednesday by SEACAT ISLE OF MAN. 

Special autumn/winter foot passenger fares are being advertised for the Liverpool and Heysham to Douglas routes for travel up to 5th January 1998. Single Fares: Adults: 15.00UKL, Children: 7.00UKL and 39.00UKL for 2 adults and 2 children. These fares are only available for advanced bookings and not on day of departure.


Norse Irish Ferries is offering attractive fare deals this autumn on the company's Liverpool to Belfast route. Foot passenger day returns are available for 59.00UKL. A single fare for a car and up to 4 passengers is available for 149.00UKL. These fares are inclusive of a 4 course evening meal, an en-suite berth and a full breakfast. This makes the day return particularly good value for money especially as a full day is available on arrival at Belfast or Liverpool.


The former Cunarder TSS ALBATROSS [ex-SYLVANIA] which visited Liverpool earlier this year, days before running aground off the Garrison at St.Marys, Isles of Scilly has had more bad luck. Shortly after re-entering service following repairs to the hull damage she had to return to Bremerhaven with boiler trouble.


The liner EDINBURGH CASTLE [ex-EUGENIO COSTA] [see earlier MSN] which will be operating out of Liverpool during 1998 is owned by Lowline and will be chartered to Direct Cruises. The Union Castle fleetname has been bought and re-registered in the UK and South Africa by a Southampton company.


Vessels currently in Cammell Laird - Wet Basin - PEVERIL, L.M. BALDUR [floating crane] and P&O's EUROPEAN ENDEAVOUR. DEEP SEA WORKER is in dry dock. When she leaves Cammell Laird she will carry the name PEREGRENE VII.


This subsidiary of Associated British Ports has been operating the dredger U.K.D. DOLPHIN [formerly WELSH DOLPHIN] in the approaches to Garston Docks.


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